As our country plans to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Pulaski Countians have a chance to participate in a ceremony featuring steel from the World Trade Center.
The Somerset-Pulaski County Special Response Team (SRT) will be hosting the 9/11 Memorial Service on the anniversary, next Wednesday, beginning at 8 a.m. at their headquarters on Stigall Drive. The facility is home to part of a steel beam from the World Trade Center's North Tower, which is on permanent loan to SRT from the Port Authority of New York for a public memorial.
While the steel has been in the county for more than a decade, not many locals realize that the World Trade Center Memorial is open to the public -- something that SRT officials hope to change.
"This is the second year for the memorial service," SRT Chief Doug Baker said. "The piece of steel is the only one of its kind in Pulaski County, and we'd like to get the word out."
Chief Baker said the service is expected to last about an hour, with speakers including himself and Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley. It will also include the presentation of colors and four sets of five bell rings to honor those lost in the line of duty.
Chief Baker added that it's not only important to remember those souls lost on the day of the attacks but to realize the struggle is still present for many first responders who rushed to the scene that day. The chief recently took part in a training with instructors who had been at Ground Zero. Nearly all had required surgeries or had otherwise fallen ill.
"Over 2,000 first responders have been lost due to illnesses since September 11th," Baker noted. "I didn't realize until this year watching the congressional hearings for the 9/11 Survivors Fund. The tragedy of that day was horrendous, and it's ongoing. We want to remember those people lost, and those who are still fighting for the health and very lives."